There are a multitude of measuring sticks to gauge athletic prowess.
Strength is measured by pounds lifted, speed by seconds and vertical leap by inches.
Measuring maturity is a bit more difficult. There’s no set volume, height or weight that determines an athlete’s ability to handle the challenges she might face.
By all accounts, Andes Archibald has plenty to spare.
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The Richland senior is a four-year starter for the Bombers’ girls soccer team, a sign that she was ready to grow up quickly as a freshman. But Archibald was ready for the challenge even before she hit high school.
“She came out the summer before her eighth-grade year and asked if she could practice with us to get a jump on things,” Richland coach Sara Elfering said. “She’s someone who is always looking to get better and always looking for time to do that.”
Archibald, a soccer player since she was 5 years old, jumped in with enthusiasm. She faced some tough tests, for sure, and Elfering did her the favor of not making things easy in the early going.
“She and another freshman weren’t really pulling their weight, and I called them out on that,” Elfering said. “She called me on the telephone and apologized for not meeting expectations. She told me she would always work harder.”
Archibald has risen to the occasion for Richland ever since, helping lead the Bombers to three league championships and two district titles in her four seasons.
“I remember being scared (at first), but then really liked the experience. I came in and was working just as hard as the other girls,” Archibald said. “If you don’t work hard, nothing is going to get handed to you. You’ll completely fall apart.”
Archibald still faces challenges, but her mental toughness allows her to deal with problems without it affecting her game. During Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Chiawana in the District 5 championship game, Archibald missed a penalty kick — the first missed spot kick of her high school career — that could have swung momentum in Richland’s favor and even changed the outcome.
“My freshman year I would have been so down on myself,” she said. “But once I looked at it for a minute, I thought, ‘Lesson learned. I have to keep going.’
“My mentality is, I’m strong enough to push through something, look at my mistake and do it better to the best of my ability.”
She’ll have a shot at redemption when Richland faces Mead at 5 p.m. today at Joe Albi Stadium in the first round of the District 5/8 regional playoffs.
Andes’ father, David Archibald, has noticed his daughter’s ability to cope with challenges and even chatted about it with former NHL star OIie Kolzig, co-owner of the Tri-City Americans.
“I told him my kid never gets too upset or too happy,” Archibald said. “(Kolzig) said that people who are not on an emotional rollercoaster tend to go a little farther. Andes has always been that way.”
Elfering made her a team captain along with senior Katherine Virden and sophomore Tate Kautzky, who credits Archibald with helping her find herself on and off the field.
“She’s been an important part of how I’ve progressed as a soccer player,” said Kautzky, an only child who sees Archibald like an older sister. “I was absolutely terrified of her my freshman year. I knew she was a badass.
“We’re such good friends now. I’m wondering why I was so afraid of her.”
Archibald spent the first three years with the Bombers mainly on defense but moved into more of an attack role in the midfield this season. She responded well, finishing third on the team with five goals and second with seven assists. She was recently honored by the Mid-Columbia Conference as a first-team midfielder, and she will attend the University of Idaho next season on a soccer scholarship.
Her father credits Andes’ club coach, Max Weber of Three Rivers Soccer Club, for helping get her up to speed.
“When Max trains them, it’s like a college practice,” David said. “She went to the U of I camp, and (Idaho coach Peter Showler) told me she stepped right in and was battling with grown women. He knew at that point she had the ability to do that.”
Archibald thinks she’ll go back to defense in college, but either way she’s certainly ready to begin the next phase of her career.
“I’m so excited to be a Vandal. The fact that I’ll be continuing my career at the Division I level is amazing,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing center back. My first nature is to have a defensive mind, but I’m very comfortable distributing the ball from midfield.”
While she’s at it, she’ll no doubt find a way to distribute the same peace of mind to her teammates.